Angels, Twins, Rangers, Rays, and Blue Jays interested in Manny Ramirez

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Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Angels, Twins, Rangers, Rays, and Blue Jays are among “at least five teams” to express interest in Manny Ramirez, which is a surprise given how little speculation has surrounded him publicly throughout the offseason.

Rojas writes that Ramirez has been training in Arizona in an effort to show he can still be used in left field in addition to designated hitter. Or as Google amusingly translates Rojas’ story from Spanish to English: Ramirez is preparing “to work in the gardens if necessary.”

Garden work or not, Ramirez will likely need to wait until Jim Thome chooses a home for 2011, because the Twins and Rangers are said to be bidding on Thome and he’s the biggest DH domino to fall in front of guys like Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Johnny Damon.

Ramirez was a non-factor for the White Sox down the stretch after they claimed him off waivers from the Dodgers, but still hit .298 with a .409 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage in 90 games overall last season, which is good for an .870 OPS that ranked 10th among all outfielders and designated hitters with 300 or more plate appearances.

UPDATE: You can cross the Twins off the Ramirez list, as they’ve re-signed Thome. And now that everyone’s top DH target is off the market, interest in Guerrero and Ramirez should pick up.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.